Cal State LA community responds to sports protests


Some athletes in the NBA and NFL are taking a stand for social justice in wake of the social justice movement in 2020. Creative Commons Photo.

Ethan Axtell, Staff Reporter

“Athletes should have a say when it comes to social injustice in their communities and use the platform they have to spread the message,” said fourth-year history major Dagoberto Bobadilla Jr.

Some athletes in the NBA and NFL are taking a stand for social justice. Players in the NBA wore social justice messages on their jerseys and voiced their concerns about police misconduct and inequity in the U.S. on social media or in post-game press conferences. 

The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans also linked arms to convey a message of unity and solidarity just before the first game of the NFL season.

“I am not a sports fan, but will watch them with family members when we have a gathering. I am aware and supportive of the recent protest/strikes by athletes in professional sports,” wrote Bobadilla in an email. “It must become more common for young athletes to give their voice to their communities that have been supporting them.”

These leagues halted all games because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the NBA resumed in late July and is now relocated to the NBA Bubble in Orlando. The NFL just began its season on Thursday, September 10. Since then, ratings have fallen for the NBA and some claim it is due to backlash over the alleged politicization of these leagues. 

“Many athletes don’t demonstrate due to the backlash of losing their careers if they stand up against their employer. Colin Kaepernick in 2016 is a good example of him losing his career due to the higher ups in the NFL, yet he continued and his message was sent world wide,” said Bobadilla.

The NBA garnered particular media attention when the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted a firstround Eastern Conference playoff game on Aug. 26 against the Orlando Magic as an act of protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake. All games were postponed that day, as the entire league stood in solidarity with the Bucks, and remained postponed for two more days before the playoffs resumed. 

The WNBA boycotted its games scheduled on Aug. 26 in solidarity with the athletes in the NBA. That day, Atlanta Dream Center Elizabeth Williams also delivered a televised statement, representing the entire league, where she stressed the importance of demanding change, holding police accountable and voting. 

President Donald Trump opined on the situation in a tweet from Sept. 1 where he echoed the belief that ratings were down for the NBA due to the league becoming too political.  

He recently revisited the topic last month, tweeting, “Players take knee, raise fist, stay in locker room, during National Anthem.” @Fox News No thanks, tell them to “protest” some other time!”

The NBA postponed all games for two days after the Bucks’ decision to demonstrate. The playoffs resumed on Saturday, Aug. 29. 

The hiatus made sense to some, including James Saia, the head coach of Cal State LA’s men’s basketball program.

“Well obviously, it’s something extremely important. It definitely needs to be addressed,” said Saia. “Racism is a horrible thing in our country that needs to be addressed. I think what [athletes] are doing is great.”

“It’s not a boycott. It’s a strike,” said Cal State LA history graduate Ivan Rod in a written interview, “It’s great to see people use their platform to bring awareness to an issue.”

Rod echoed the sentiment of Saia and Bobadilla.